Aloha! This card will offer you an introduction to hula dance and its meaning in Hawaiian culture. If anyone has any tips or advice, please share!
ORIGINS OF HULA:
There are various legends surrounding the origins of hula. According to one Hawaiian legend, Pele, the goddess of fire was trying to find a home for herself running away from her sister Namakaokaha'i (the goddess of the oceans) when she finally found an island where she couldn't be touched by the waves. There at chain of craters on the island of Hawai'i she danced the first dance of hula signifying that she finally won.
American Protestant missionaries, who arrived in 1820, denounced the hula as a heathen dance. The newly Christianized aliʻi (royalty and nobility) were urged to ban the hula—which they did. However, many of them continued to privately patronize the hula. By the 1850s, public hula was regulated by a system of licensing.
The Hawaiian performing arts had a resurgence during the reign of King David Kalākaua (1874–1891), who encouraged the traditional arts.
TYPES OF HULA:
Hula consists of two types: 1) Kahiko and 2) auwana.
The Kahiko is a traditional chant-type dance with various movements depicting some type of motion written within the chant. Most hawaiian chants deal with various aspects of nature like the wind (ka makani), the rain (ka ua), the mountains (ka mauna), and the oceans (ka moana).
Auana, or modern dance, came about during the reign of Lalakaua. These dances and the chants that accompany them are more colloquial, having either been handed down through the generations or being examples of contemporary Hawaiian music of Hawaiian Music artist's of today. They are not as disciplined as the kahiko.
All hula dances derive from a series of traditional moves including
- Ha’a: This is a basic stance, and how most hula begins. In this move, dancers stand erect with their knees bent.
- Lewa: Literally translated at “lift,” this step involves lifting the hips.
- Hela: One of the most basic movements of the feet, for hela, a dancer touches one foot to the side at about a 45-degree angle in front of their body. The dancer keeps their weight on the other foot and while maintaining the bent-knee stance. They return the foot to the starting position and repeat with the other foot.
- Ka’i: In this position, the dancer lifts one foot, then raises and lowers the heel of the opposite foot. The movement then repeats with the other foot.
- ‘Ami: This is a basic hip rotation with variations including the ‘Ami ‘ami, ‘Ami ‘ôniu and ‘Ami ku’upau.
- Holo: Similar to the lewa, appears as a running movement.
- Kâholo: To Kâholo a dancer performs the lewa move while traveling. The dancer first steps to one side and follows with the opposite foot, then steps to the same side again.
- ‘Uehe: In this move, the dancer lifts one foot and shifts their weight to the opposite hip when stepping down, then raises both heels to push the knees forward. These movements repeat on the opposite side.
- Lele: Another walking move, in this position, the dancer lifts their heel with each step.